I’ll say it outright. During Caps games, the Verizon center is way too quiet. Not to knock the fans, because we are some of the best in the NHL, but my goodness, soft-spoken much? (Part I here).
After years of dormancy in the league, the Capitals franchise has built an incredible fan base, with phenomenal attendance records over the “Ovechkin era.” The team is winning on a consistent basis year after year, making it more and more enjoyable to head to the “phone booth” for a night of hockey.
They make the playoffs every year, and although the final result has been disappointing so far, the season is extended, providing more excitement for fans. Sellout after sellout though, almost 19,000 folks seem more like an anxious room full of homeroom high schoolers, tiredly chatting before a school day. The Verizon Center should be much louder, and much more involved during Capitals games, as the fans may not know the importance of their role. It’s time to give the home team the support they deserve.
Ever heard of the term in football, the twelfth man? In short, it’s basically portraying attendance’s importance as that of one of the players on the field. In professional sports, the part that attending viewers play in the turnout of games has become increasingly influential.
The athletes have said it themselves, claiming that the impact the fans have on their spirits and performance during contests is huge. Intimidation amongst players is important, but the spectators can literally affect the way an opposing team plays, which can be a huge boost to the home squad. I can recall Martin Brodeur making an observation about the Verizon Center once, speaking of the “ocean of red” that consumed the building. Yeah, Caps fans, we got into Marty’s head…one of the best goalies to ever play the game. This needs to happen all the time.
Sadly, during the games I’ve been to this year, it’s been crickets for the most part. Specifically, and what enticed me to write this article, was the game against Montreal this past Saturday. The second game of a back to back, after a tough shoot out win versus the Hurricanes. They faced a great Montreal team, backstopped by one of the best in the business, Carey Price. Likely lead-legged and tired, a packed house seemed to lack vocal support for the team when they needed it most. The Caps announcer, as always, did his best to rile up the crowd in roaring manner…but to little success. Slapshot ran up and down the venue, banging his drum and whooping small groups of sections into a craze, but only for short periods of time. When the Caps had frenzies in the offensive zone, there was no sustained roar from a crowd that I have personally seen rumble the foundation of the building at times. On penalty kills, there are rarely more than a couple thousand clapping and cheering when a shot is blocked, or a puck is cleared to relieve pressure. After a booming hit, or a scrum in front of the net, people should be using those events and rolling with them, instead of quieting down after a few seconds. More often than not, the home team will thrive off the energy produced from huge group of supporters. Sometimes, all it takes is a little kick in the butt from the fans to boost a team from struggling, and change the pace of the game. Unleashing the fury should come for the whole game, not for a few seconds with 5 minutes remaining in the 3rd, down by a goal. Who cares if you sound like a crazy idiot…you’re at a hockey game, most likely surrounded by others who are just as nuts as you…we live in D.C, and drive in and out of it everyday…LET IT OUT!
To credit Washington, it is still a bit of a baby when it comes to hockey. We are young compared to many, and most fans are fairly new. They aren’t seasoned like the fanatics in Montreal, Chicago, Boston, or even New York. In D.C, and unfortunately so, a lot of the seats are filled with corporate giveaways, date nights, and all other things NOT related to being a hockey fan. It certainly puts a damper on the regulars ability to “bring the house down,” but humans will follow suit. Season ticket holders and regular attendees can do their part in helping that group of four in business attire get on their feet, and hopefully instill some knowledge for the next time their boss gives them tickets. Start a trend of cheering loudly, proudly, and respectfully of course. Keep that thunder booming for entire zone times, full power plays and penalty kills. The list goes on, and the players will thank you for it, I promise.
Yes, we are all well aware of the teams’ playoff woes, and some may be thoroughly discouraged at this point…I know I am from time to time. However, think about what’s important here…the Caps, and eventually getting the you know what. I don’t say it, sorry.
The cause is not lost, though. The Washington Capitals are an incredibly dangerous hockey club, and again, sometimes it just takes a little extra kick in the keister to boost your favorite players. Help the horn guy, the Goat, and the other famous Caps fans get the rest of the party going, because the players need you. Keep the class, but put some *** into it. You are more useful and impactful than you know. Verizon Center is too dang quiet all the time, and it needs to change!
By Brennan Reidy